There's no shortage of classic regional American dishes. Some are well-known: The lobster roll, the Philly cheesesteak, and Buffalo wings have all attained huge popularity and notoriety across the country. Others are well-kept local secrets that seem primed to burst onto the national scene, such as the Maryland crab pretzel. But are you aware of the chocolate-covered potato chip from North Dakota?
When you think of delicious regional food, the Dakotas probably won't be the first place that comes to mind. Yet, that's exactly where one favorite comes from. Chocolate-covered potato chips may seem like a universal concept, but they were specifically created at one candy chain: Carol Widman's Candy Co., which was founded in Dubuque, Iowa, in 1885 but moved to North Dakota in 1949 and now has locations in Grand Forks and Fargo. In the decades since their creation, chocolate-covered potato chips have become one of the most important cultural artifacts of the Peace Garden State.
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Chippers Are Heavily Promoted By The State Itself
Better known as "chippers," it's generally accepted that chocolate-covered potato chips were created by Widman's sometime since its arrival in North Dakota in 1949; not only does Widman's make the claim, but very few dispute it. Chippers are sold at the Fargo airport, Widman's is featured on the state's tourism page, and North Dakotans are extremely proud of the chips. And why wouldn't they be? Who can hear the words "chocolate-covered potato chip" and not be immediately intrigued?
But why are chocolate-covered potato chips such a big deal to the cultural identity of North Dakotans? The obvious answer is that they're both delicious and authentically North Dakotan. Widman's itself sources Red River Valley potatoes for its chippers, a specific North Dakota variety, so it's keeping everything in-state. But there's another factor, too: They're an idea any American, regardless of where they're from, can immediately grasp.
Chippers Are A Pretty Good Claim To Fame
Any state will have regional symbols to be proud of, and North Dakota is no exception. This doesn't just extend to food -- the wood chipper from the movie "Fargo," for example, also appears on the state's tourism website -- but food is a way cultures and regions communicate with each other. Chippers, meanwhile, have attained broader popularity after a company called Executive Sweets introduced them to the Chicago market in 1985. Given that, it's no surprise that chocolate-covered potato chips -- a concept that will immediately catch the attention of American snack lovers -- would be a point of cultural pride on which Dakotans can hang their extremely warm winter hats.
Ultimately, this is one North Dakotan regional specialty that has captured the attention of food lovers across the country. Give them their roses: Chocolate-covered potato chips can stand with any other regional dish.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.